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7 Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Parenting

Parenting has never been known as an easy task. It is a constant string of decisions and responsibilities, peppered with plenty of joys so you stay sane. The daily happenings in the life of a parent are enough to make you need a nap by 3 p.m. But most parents I know feel they aren't getting the amount of sleep that they need. Whether it's the keeping the same schedule as their newborn, or taking care of extra work late at night, parents are, in a word, tired. But if you're not a careful, sleep deprivation can affect your parenting, as well as your overall health — meaning it's time you give yourself permission to snooze as much as possible.  

If you're like me, then you've have plenty of those days when the alarm goes off and you would bet your life that you just turned off your light and went to sleep. Not sleeping long or soundly enough can have effects that last well after you open your eyes the next morning. And multiple days of poor sleep can compound into long term troubles that effect your whole life. When you're not able to function at full potential, you will start to see the effects in how you parent.

When you're sleeping enough, it's easier to tackle parenting, and life in general. But in case you needed extra motivation to get some Zs, here are seven ways sleep deprivation effects your parenting.

1. Your Memory Suffers

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And it's not just forgetting. According to Psychology Today, when you get five hours of sleep (or less) you may believe you did things that you actually never did — which is a phenomenon called false memories. This may sound very familiar to some parents. I know there have been times I have sworn that I signed school papers I never saw, or thought for sure I packed everyone a bottle of water for the car ride. Bottom line: false memories and forgetfulness can throw you off your game, big time.

2. Your Mood Goes Up and Down

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When I don't get enough Zs, I can be a real crankpot. (Which is a gentle way of saying raging b*tch.) My sweet family bares the brunt of this moodiness on those days following restless nights. As Healthline pointed out, sleep deprivation alters your brain function and makes your emotional state temporarily unstable. Which puts into perspective those days when you just can't seem to get your mood on point.  

3. You Struggle With Decision Making

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Not getting enough sleep makes for a foggy brain, and aside from all the yawning, you may find it tough to make good decisions when you're tired, according to NPR. As a parent, you make decisions all day long — and can most likely relate to situations such as giving in more on those days when you're wiped out.

4. You Lose Focus

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If you haven't noticed, it's really difficult to stay focused when your eyelids are heavy and you can't stop yawning. That's because your brain isn't getting what it needs when you're sleep deprived, and the function for vigilance is compromised, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. This can have dangerous consequences for parents who are in charge of the safety and wellbeing of their children.

5. You Stress

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Being an adult is stressful enough, so avoiding any additions stressors is ideal. As the Sleep Foundation explained, when your body is deprived of sleep, the response mimics the same immune response as when you're under stress. It's hard to do much of anything when you feel stressed, especially manage children.  

6. You Miss Out

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Being involved in your kid's life, means you need to stay healthy. But lack of sleep damages your immune system, digestion, and heart health, according to Healhtline.

7. You Have Regrets

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After seeing how many ways sleep deprivation effects your wellbeing, it's easy to see how you can do and say things you don't mean, or wouldn't normally do if you were well rested. These behaviors can lead to some parents regrets, making you wish you could have been a little more patient, focused, and kind to your kids.